One of the main factors that determines a teen’s mental health is a sense of competence. As a parent, you want your teen to make smart academic and personal decisions. You want your teen to feel capable, to stay motivated and to have a healthy level of confidence. Imagine feeling that your teen is doing really well navigating all of the expectations and pressures of growing up, being in high school and moving toward a healthy adulthood!

If you’re hoping to help your teen stay focused and accomplish great things (especially for the rest of the busy school semester), take a moment to watch my latest video via Teen LAUNCH.

Feeling competent is one of the core pillars of teen mental health. It’s one of the answers to the big question of “what makes a teenager motivated to get things done?”

Competence is being capable of accomplishing something or doing something well. Ideally, for healthy development your teen has some sense of being competent from earlier years in school and life in general.

Here are three things YOU can do to support your teen to build a sense of competence and to feel motivated:

  1. Highlight what your teen is already doing well (and mean it)
    2. Require your teen to be responsible for some basic tasks
    3. Connect your teen to something creative and “grade free”

Try finding something to cover each of these three points at home, at school and in the outside world.

For example, for school, comment on how your teen always turns in homework even when it isn’t perfect. At home, help your teen start taking on some of the things that you usually do for her, like laundry or making a lunch in the morning. In the outside world, help your teen find a creative outlet like a theatre group or a volunteer group.

Think about what your teen liked to do before school got so busy to get some ideas. You’ll be helping your teen highlight examples of what he can already do well, which he will build off of to feel more competent. Let him connect to what he’s good at!

Is your teen more aware of weaknesses rather than strengths and accomplishments? Share on X

Adolescents are being faced with academic responsibilities and pressures in different ways than their parents were. Sometimes traditional education focuses on finding the weaknesses and working on them rather than identifying strengths and building on them.

Highlighting strengths and creating goals based on developing those strengths can reinvent your teen’s world-view and self-esteem, increasing the belief of “I can do this! I can do well!” This is why building both competence and confidence are a key factor for keeping a teen motivated.

Your teen can be a part of the next generation of self-sufficient and skilled young adults, and you can support that.

After watching the video, you may have additional questions about how to help your teen build and sustain a healthy level of confidence and competence. Take a look at what you can do next to help your unique teen:

What if my teen seems to have plenty of confidence, but doesn’t have competence in many areas?

Often a teen who appears to be overly is actually struggling with uncertainty, frustration and/or insecurity. The teen years can be overwhelming, and a teen who wants to feel more in control of his or her life may present as confident but feel stuck when it comes to facing a challenge and building competence a skill such as with academics, communication or any other task.

What you can do is be constructive and (most especially) specific with your encouragement and feedback. No harm comes from building up your teen’s self-esteem by appreciating what she does well! Overtime this will help your teen conceptualize and develop skills and abilities that will build higher competence and natural confidence.

Another important task for you to help your teen build competence is to stop doing things for your teen. If you don’t give him or her the opportunity to attempt a task (and struggle, problem solve, collaborate, learn, etc.), you aren’t allowing your teen the chance to build competence.

What about if my teen is quite competent in many ways, but seems to have low confidence and self-esteem?

Many teens struggle to see their own worth. For some teenagers, comparisons with siblings, peers and other people become a discouraging and persistent obstacle. Your teen may have internal negative thoughts toward himself or herself. It can be difficult for some teens to see the potential rewards of their efforts because of a sense of pressure and/or fear of failure or criticism.

To help your teen build confidence and self-esteem, emphasize with your words and actions that his or her value does not stem from an ability or accomplishment. Your teen is worthy of love and appreciation from both you and from himself or herself – regardless of grades, appearance or social status. Value your teen’s internal worth as a person above all mistakes or victories, and he or she will have a better chance of learning to value himself or herself in this healthy way, too.

To put all of this into action, take a moment to think outside the box for your teen. Are her strengths being highlighted and challenged in healthy ways? Spend some time exploring opportunities now that may ignite your teen’s natural strengths.

Check out our other Teen LAUNCH videos to learn from experts that can help you and your student balance academic and personal wellness.

If you found this post and video helpful, please share it with a friend!

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